Haley Barbour has obviously forgotten that running for the presidency of the United States is not the same as running for the presidency of the Yazoo City Country Club. Barbour attempted to whitewash the past with the same old half truths still promulgated by white southerners of a certain age, half truths this ruling class has relied on for decades to deny the existence of the viscous cruelty and brutality used during segregation to keep black Americans in check.
Growing up in South Carolina, the home of this month’s Secession Ball and an obsessive desire to keep flying the flag of a defeated Confederacy, there was one thing I always knew for sure—however bad race relations seemed in my native Palmetto State, I had no doubt that they were worse for black people in Mississippi. This was confirmed just a couple of years ago by a thirty something coworker hailing from Mississippi, who said to me with a straight face “until I left home and moved to Denver, I thought all black people did was sit on their porches all day and wait for their welfare checks.” I guess it never occurred to anybody like my co-worker or Mr. Barbour that if almost 40% of your population is African American, then the fate of your state depends on whether or not you are sincerely committed to improving their lot in life.
What Haley Barbour intimated these last few days was arguably worse than the admission of my coworker, especially since one would expect that a young Barbour had been brought up in the kind of middle class household where a TV and a daily newspaper subscription would have been de rigueur. What this incident puts on display are the internal mechanisms by which a certain subset of the South’s population has convinced itself that it had no culpability and bore no responsibility for the atrocities committed for decades against black Americans in defense of segregation.
Why can’t the Haley Barbours of the world admit the truth? Because the kind of truth they need to tell is not the kind of truth that sets you free in modern day America. Because any admission of culpability in matters pertaining to racial oppression confers a responsibility upon people like Barbour across the South, people who are in positions of power, fellow Mississippians who should be laboring mightily to do everything they can to right these shockingly egregious wrongs.
You tell em, Haley. Those kids getting their bones broken as their bodies were thrown against the concrete with fire hoses were all just thrill seeking. —-It’s no worse than bungee jumping. Right Haley? And those civil rights workers who were hung not far from your hometown committed suicide. Right Haley? And those little girls that were blown to bits when bombs went off while they were worshiping with their families was not real. It was a PR stunt by a few trouble makers to garner sympathy for their [so called] civil rights movement.
What’s a little civil rights between friends? Field Negro
The conscious decisions made by the elites and the governing bodies who ran North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee during the first half of the twentieth century, conscious decisions that allowed them to ignore, abandon, terrorize, maim and kill their African American citizens, will continue to pay the kinds of unwanted dividends the Haley Barbours of the world will be reaping for years to come. Or they could end it sooner if these people and their descendants decide to put this sordid past behind them once and for all by simply committing to telling the truth, even when it hurts.